Bob is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music and has been leading worship and writing songs for many years. I got to chat to him and ask him a few questions about himself and also ask him a couple of questions about something every exciting coming up in the UK next year.
Hi Bob, firstly can I thank you for writing your book "Worship Matters". It's been singlehandedly the most helpful book on leading worship that I've ever read. I love the mix of theology and practical advice and Jesus centred-ness. I've made it a must read for everyone involved in leading worship in our Church too! Thanks!
Thanks for your encouraging words, Olly. So glad it’s been helpful.
How did you first get into leading worship?
Probably the way most people do – I was asked to participate with the musicians in my church. That eventually led to me leading on Sundays. I’ve been leading music in the church now for over 35 years.
If you could go back in time and give that younger Bob some advice what would it be?
Great question! Nothing is more important to communicate to people than the gospel of Jesus Christ. No song, arrangement, vocalist, riff, or technology will be more impressive than the Savior. People are starved for the glory of Christ, not the glory of our presentation. Another thing I’d impress on myself is the importance of knowing God’s Word and trusting it to change people’s lives. I think I tended to trust my illustrations or persuasiveness more than God’s Word. I’d also tell myself to view leading songs as a pastoral function before you see it as a musical one. Finally, I’d highlight the importance of listening. Do more listening than you do talking or singing. Listen to the feedback others give you. In fact, seek it out. Listen to the other musicians that you play with.
In the wider Church what do you think is good about the way corporate worship is led and where do you think we are missing the mark?
More leaders and writers are paying more attention to the gospel – Christ living, dying, and rising from the dead to save us from the wrath of God. There’s also a widespread recognition of the importance of God’s Word when we sing. Charismatics and cessationists are learning to sing together in the same room. There’s been a huge outpouring of new songs in the last decade. All these things are great and signs of God’s work in the church. Concerns include an overemphasis on production and immediate experience. Technology is enabling us to do more than ever both with sound and lights. All this focus can lead to a neglect of God’s unchanging Word and a pursuit of feelings that aren’t necessarily truth-based. They can also imply that we need another mediator besides Jesus to enjoy God’s presence, or even no mediator at all.
Bob, tell me about "Worship God" which is happening in the UK in 2014…
WorshipGodUK 2014 came about as a result of conversations with Nathan Smith, a Sovereign Grace pastor in Bristol. I’ve been hosting WorshipGod conferences in the States for the past 7 years and Nathan thought it would be great to bring one across the pond. The focus of the conference is always to serve those who have the responsible for corporate worship in three ways: theology, heart, and skill. We try hard to connect theology to everyday practices so people leave feeling not only encouraged but equipped. This year’s theme is Called to Be Faithful. The main sessions will focus on striving to be faithful as opposed to successful, popular, or innovative. The 26 seminars will speak to both theological and practical issues. We’re thrilled to have Mike Reeves, Stuart Townend, Tim Chester, Nathan and Lou Fellingham, and others with us from the UK. We’re also bringing some of my favorite preachers from the States in Jeff Purswell, Donald Whitney, and Craig Cabaniss.
Sounds great, who's the conference aimed at and where can we sign up?
The conference is designed for pastors, music leaders, musicians, songwriters, tech personnel, and anyone who wants to grow in their understanding and practice of biblical worship. You can find out all the info for booking at www.worshipgod.org.uk.
Final couple of questions Bob- what's your favourite musical note?
My favorite musical note has to be C#, because that’s what I want to do when I’m looking ahead into the future…
What instrument do you wish had never been invented?
We could probably have done without the kazoo. That is if a kazoo even falls into the category of musical instrument.
Insightful! Thanks so much for your time Bob. I'd encourage everyone reading this to book into the "Worship God" UK conference without delay!